What Does Oral Cancer Look Like?
When you are in for your professional cleaning and oral exam, we will always do an oral cancer screening. We need to understand you medical history, dental history, and any other potential risk factors. Using any relevant information can help us to identify, treat, or refer as early as possible.
While performing an oral cancer screening, we look for colors or lesions in areas that are not normally present. These areas could appear red, white, blue, black or a combination. If an area is identified we will make sure we have photos and follow their progress. If a spot continues to change size, shape or color, we may recommend a specialist take a look and decide if a biopsy is necessary. If an area presents with more progressive features, we may immediately refer for a biopsy.
Technology has become available that uses a special light and/or a rinse to look for pre-cancerous or cancerous areas. At Brown and Kupper we do not use these tools because of a large number of ‘false-positive.’ This means it shows an overabundance of areas that may be pre-cancerous can lead to over treatment. Until this technology improves, we will continue to conduct our oral cancer screenings without the lights or rinses. The surgeons and pathologists we work with and trust use the same technique.
So what should you look for at home and when do you need to come see us? If you notice an area of concern and it does not go away in two weeks it is usually a good indication to have the area more closely examined. If you have any history of oral cancer in your family, smoking, or smokeless tobacco, then it is even more important to have us check a possible area if you are every in doubt.
Like many other types, oral cancer can go undetected for a long time if you do not maintain regular visits with your doctor or dentist. Even if you do your best to check at home for any irregularities, we recommending with your dentist whenever in doubt.